Whipping Up Something Sweet, Straight From The Garden

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The best strawberry is the one you eat straight from the patch. But if berry-picking is not your style, pick up a pint from the farm stand and consider the fresh fruit for meals throughout the day.

Strawberries are usually identified as a breakfast fruit, or reserved for dessert, so why not try this attractive— and very tasty—strawberry, spinach and arugula salad as a first course? Serve unstemmed strawberries with a soft cheese, such as brie, for hors d’oeuvres with cocktails, and finish off with a quick strawberry sorbet, or old-fashioned strawberry shortcake, for dessert.

Bon appétit!

Strawberry, Spinach, Arugula Salad With Almond Crusted Chevre(Serves 4)4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and spun dry, stems removed

2 cups baby arugula leaves, washed and spun dry, stems removed

1 small bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1/2 cup fresh spearmint leaves, stems removed

1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and patted dry

2 ounces plain chevre

2 ounces sliced almonds, toasted light brown

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon aged sherry wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Malden salt, for finishingTo prepare:Whisk mustard and vinegar together in a small mixing bowl until blended.

Slowly whisk the oil into the mixture until it becomes an emulsion.

Season with pepper.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.Toss spinach leaves, arugula, mint and scallions together in a bowl.

Stem and slice strawberries into another bowl.

Place toasted almonds on a plate.

Slice chevre into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.

Roll each slice in the almonds.Whisk dressing.

Add strawberries to the greens.

Drizzle just enough dressing on the salad until the leaves glisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt.

Transfer to salad plates.

Top with cheese.

Garnish with a whole strawberry.Quick Strawberry Sorbet(About 1 quart)1 quart fresh strawberries, washed and stemmed

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Honey or maple syrup, to tasteTo prepare:Taste berries to determine their sweetness.

Place washed strawberries on a jelly roll pan.

Freeze for 2 hours.

Place half the frozen berries in food processor or blender.

Add half the coconut milk and 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey.

Blend or process the mixture, until smooth.

Taste and adjust.

Repeat with second batch.

Pour into a plastic container.

Freeze until 10 minutes before serving.Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake With Whipped Cream(Makes 12 shortcakes)3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar, to taste, plus more for sprinkling

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup milk

2 quarts fresh strawberries, rinsed and stemmed, with a few reserved for garnish

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Grated zest of one lemonTo prepare:Stem and slice the berries.

Taste for sweetness.

Add sugar, to taste.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder and sugar into a bowl.

Mix well.

Cut butter into the flour with a fork or pastry blender, until it resembles bread crumbs.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture.

Pour milk in the center.

Quickly stir until the mixture forms a soft, sticky dough, about 30 to 40 seconds.

If the mixture is dry, add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time.For drop biscuits:Drop 6 to 8 large, same-sized tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheet.

Arrange for even baking.

Slightly flatten the dough with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle sugar on top.

Place the pan in the center rack.

Bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 18 minutes.For cut biscuits:Pat the dough into a rectangle on a floured surface, until 3/4-inch thick.

Fold the dough into thirds, as if it were a letter

Roll out the dough again, until 3/4-inch thick.

Cut out the biscuits with a 3-inch cookie cutter.

Gather the scraps for the last biscuit.

Transfer to baking sheet.

Bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.To assemble:Whip cream with lemon zest and vanilla just before serving, until stiff peaks form.

Cut biscuits in half horizontally.

Place the bottom half on a dessert plate.

Fold berries into most of the whipped cream, leaving some aside.

Place a large spoonful on the biscuits.

Replace top half of biscuit on the berries and cream.

Add a dollop of plain whipped cream on top.

Garnish with a strawberry.

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